The Eternal Sonship of the Lord Jesus Christ The Eternal Sonship of the Lord Jesus Christ
CHAPTER I - Part 3
4. But there is another way in which erroneous men seek to explain, and by explaining deny, the eternal Sonship of the Lord Jesus, and that is, by asserting that He is a Son by office. These men do not deny His essential and eternal Deity, nor do they seek to overthrow the Trinity. On these points they are professedly sound-we say, "professedly," for we fully believe that the Deity of Christ and the very doctrine of the Trinity Itself are so involved in the eternal Sonship of Jesus, that they stand or fall with it. This, however, they do not, or will not, see, and call themselves believers in the Trinity of Persons and the Unity of essence in the great and glorious self-existent Jehovah. But they do not believe that Father, Son and Holy Ghost are necessarily and eternally such, and neither are, were, or could be otherwise, but that they are covenant offices and titles which They have assumed, and by which They have made Themselves known to the sons of men. Thus they do not believe that Christ is the Son of the Father by eternal generation, His only begotten; Son, His Son in truth and love, but that the Three distinct Persons in the Trinity covenanted among Themselves, the Father to be the Father, the Son to be the Son, and the Holy Ghost to be the Holy Ghost, and that chiefly for man s redemption.
Monstrous figment! God-dishonouring error! which needs only to be stated to be reprobated by every believer in the Son of God as a deadly blow against; each Person in the Trinity, and destroying that eternal intercommunication of nature, without which They are Three distinct Gods, and not Three distinct Persons in One undivided Godhead. Truly Satan introduces no little errors into the church; truly all his machinations are to overthrow vital truths, and to poison the spring at the very fountain head. We bless God that there is a Covenant-a covenant of grace, "ordered in all things and sure;" we adore His gracious Majesty that in this everlasting Covenant the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost sustain certain relationships to the church of God; but we most thoroughly deny that these relationships made Them to be Father, Son and Holy Ghost; and that separate from them the Father is not really and truly Father to the Son, nor the Son really and truly Son to the Father, but only nominally so. For who does not see that if this be true, the Father might have been the Son, and the Son might have been the Father, and the Holy Ghost either the Father or the Son? for certainly if They are so, not by nature but by office, and are three equal, independent Persons, at liberty to choose Their several titles, there appears to be no reason why They should not have chosen otherwise than They did. We see, therefore, into what confusion men get when they forsake the simple statements of Scripture, and what perilous weapons they hold in their hands when they directly or indirectly sap the very throne of the Most High. But to clear up this point a little further, let us illustrate it by a simple figure. Suppose, then, that three friends, of equal rank and station, were to go on a journey, say a foreign tour; they might say to one an other before they started, "Let us severally choose the three departments to which we shall each attend, I will take this part, if you and you will take that and that." Now, why might they not, as three friends, of equal station, without any tie of kindred, choose different departments from what they actually selected, for there was no anterior binding necessity that they should have chosen the exact offices which they fulfil? The same reasoning applies to the Three co-equal Persons of the Trinity, if Father, Son and Holy Ghost be but mere covenant names, titles, and offices, and not their very mode of existence. But it will be said by such men, You carnalise the subject by your figure. Not so; we have too much reverence, we trust, for the things of God to carnalise them; but we use the figure to meet you on your own ground, and to show you by a simple argument the absurdity and folly, not to say the impiety of your views. We admit, nay more, we rejoice to believe that Father, Son and Holy Ghost sustain each distinct Their Relationships in the eternal Covenant; but these relationships are not arbitrary offices, which They might or might not have severally chosen, but are intrinsically and necessarily connected with, and flow out of Their very subsistence, Their very mode of existence. So that to talk, as some have done, that "the Three Persons in the Alehim" to use their barbarous Hebrew, "covenanted among Themselves to be Father, Son and Holy Ghost," is an abominable error, and tantamount to declaring that but for the Covenant, the Father would not have been the Father, nor the Son the Son, nor the Holy Ghost the Holy Ghost. Where is there one scripture for such an assertion? When the blessed Jesus, in that sacred, heart-moving prayer, "lifted up His eyes to heaven and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee" Joh 17:1, was there no other relationship, no more intimate and eternal tie than being His Son by assuming an office? We cannot express what we have seen and felt in that most blessed and sacred chapter, perhaps the most solemn in the whole Word of God; but there is that tender intimacy, that holy, filial communion with His heavenly Father breathing through it which conveys to a believing heart the fullest assurance that He is the eternal Son of God as being the only-begotten of the Father.
But as we cannot convey to erroneous men our faith, we must meet them on the solid ground of scriptural argument. Nothing then can be more evident than that the one great and glorious Jehovah existed in a Trinity, of Persons before the Covenant. What then were those Three Persons before the Covenant was entered into? Did that Covenant alter Their mutual relationship to Each other so as to introduce a new affinity between Them? You might just as well say that the Covenant made Them a Trinity of Persons, or called Them in to being, as, to say that the Covenant made Them Father, Son and Holy Ghost; for if these be but Covenant titles, had there been no Covenant, they most certainly, according to your own showing, would not have been Father, Son and Holy Ghost. This is indeed overthrowing the Trinity with a witness, and making the distinct, eternal subsistence of Three Persons in the Godhead depend upon a Covenant made on behalf of man. For remember this, that you cannot touch one Person of the Godhead without touching all; and if you say that the Son of God is a Son only by office, you say with the same breath that the Father is only a Father by office, and the Holy Ghost only a Holy Ghost by office.
But let us further ask, What do you mean. by saying that the Son of God is so only by office, or as a name or title? Has the Son of God, His only-begotten Son, no more real, intimate, and necessary relationship to His Father than calling Himself His Son, when He is not really His Son, but only so by office? Do you think you clearly understand what it is to be a Son by office? for persons often use words of which they have never accurately examined the meaning. The Lord Jesus, by becoming man, became the Father s servant by office, but if you make Him a Son by office, you strip Him of all His glory. His glory is this, that though He was a Son by nature, He became a Servant by office, as the Apostle says, "Though He were not became a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered" Heb 5:8. In this we see His unparalleled condescension, His infinite love, and boundless depths of grace, that though by nature the eternal Son of God, and as such co-equal with the Father, He stooped to become a servant. But apart from all Scripture revelation, it is an absurdity, an insult to common sense, to make the Lord Jesus Christ a Son by office. There are but two ways by which anyone can become a son:
1, by generation;
2, by adoption.
In the first case He is the father s son, his true, proper and real son; in the other, his made or adopted son. No office or service, no law or title, no covenant or agreement, can make a son if he be not a real or an adopted one. A servant by office may. become a son by adoption, as Abram complained that "one born in his house as a servant was his heir," and as Moses became the son of Pharaoh s daughter Ex 2:10; and a son by nature may become a servant by office, but a son by office is an absurdity, both in nature and grace.
Now do look at the weight of these plain and united testimonies. Would God deceive us by telling us again and again that He had a Son, an own, a proper a peculiar, an only-begotten Son, if He had not? Where in all these passages is there the faintest intimation that the Sonship of Christ was not a true and real Sonship, but only a name, a title, a word, that might or might not have been, and but for the creation of man never would have been? To make the mutual eternal relationship which subsists between the Father and the Son depend upon a covenant made on behalf of man, is to destroy the very eternal being of both Father and Son. Surely, when the Father spoke Himself from heaven, "This is My beloved Son, hear ye Him," He meant that He was really and truly His beloved Son, that He was His most loving Father, and that we were to hear. believe in, and obey Him as such.